Colquitt UMC Ministers with the Poor and the Prisoner

2/10/2011

Submitted by Mr. Terry Toole, member of Colquitt UMC

At a time when it seems we might need to watch out for ourselves in these uncertain days, there is a happening in the small, rural town of Colquitt that is setting the example for others to follow. It not only serves local people, it reaches over into other counties to help people. The program is the CUMC Food Bank under the direction of Allen and Alice Cobb, volunteers from the church.  If you ride by the Colquitt United Methodist Church on Main Street on a Saturday morning, the parking lots, the streets and anywhere you look are full of cars and people, it's distribution day for the monthly Food Bank.

This hasn't just started. It began as a part of the church's outreach ministry with Ralph and Estelle Thompson and Joy Jinks helping with the initial organization of the food bank. Initially they got the church to back the program by buying food from the district food banks and having members bring certain foods or household goods to give to the needy. As the program grew, the need for more food and more help also grew and the church needed more funding for this ministry.

CUMC also has an outreach program called the Agape Thrift Store that sells donated clothing and household items at drastically reduced prices.  The Agape Thrift Store is under the direction of church members Larry and Virginia Whittaker.  The proceeds of this store on the Colquitt square buy the goods given out at the Food Bank. Without the proceeds of $2000-$2400 per month from the Agape Store, there would be no Food Bank.  This ministry also gives much of its inventory away to those in need after disasters or fires or to those who just can’t afford clothing.  “We help a lot of people get back on their feet,” says the Rev. David Thompson pastor at CUMC.

Of the 20 counties served by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southwest Georgia, the CUMC Food Bank distributed more food than any of their agencies last year—144,000 pounds of food to approximately 330 families in four counties.  They were awarded the “President’s Award” from the Southwest Georgia Food Bank President to making such a significant contribution to work with the poor.  Another reason for this award is that CUMC has started two other food banks in their area, one in Blakely, and one in Arlington (both in neighboring Early County).  These other food banks now serve approximately 200 families bringing the total to over 500 families in the four counties they reach with this ministry.A group equally vital to the CUMC and this ministry is the Trustee Group of the Miller County Jail.  CUMC has a prison ministry which includes a Sunday School class with the Trustees of the Miller County Jail.  This Sunday School class provides some of the volunteer muscle for loading, unloading, packing, and distributing all the food.  “The great thing about this CUMC ministry is that it is ministry WITH the poor.  The Prison Trustees, the church members, and the poor of this community work together in this ministry,” says Rev. David Thompson.

At the monthly outreach a worship service is held for over 300 people.  After the worship service, the food is distributed.  Items included fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, frozen meats, frozen vegetables, fruits, household supplies, school items for children, bread, and various non-perishables.  The estimated worth of the bags of groceries vary from $100-150 per family.  This ministry is doing approximately $30,000 worth of relief work every month.  Now that is seriously feeding Jesus sheep.